NATO

NATO 'can blunt Russian attack', Deputy Chief of Defence Staff says

The Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Marshal Richard Knighton, rejected claims that "NATO isn't ready".

The UK is fully equipped to fight a war against Russia should NATO be attacked, a senior military officer has said.

Air Marshal Richard Knighton, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, rejected claims made by one of his predecessors, General Sir Richard Barrons, that "NATO isn't ready".

Last week, General Barrons told the House of Commons Defence Committee that NATO "will have a call to make" should Russia attack members of the alliance, adding: "And that call would be easier if we had made any preparations at all to act in those circumstances at the speed required, and we have not".

But Air Marshal Knighton told the same committee that NATO's mission was "to deter an attack" and that Russia "is learning a lesson about the cost of invasion" in Ukraine.

Asked directly by Conservative MP Richard Drax whether the UK had enough equipment and ammunition to fight Russia for "more than just a week or two", AM Knighton replied: "Yes."

He said: "General Barrons is a renowned commentator on such matters since he retired.

"The scenarios that we work through are many and varied, but if you are asking does NATO have the ability to blunt a Russian attack, yes it does.

"And I think what we've seen in Ukraine reinforces that NATO over-matches Russian capability in lots of ways."

The Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff said he was unable to comment on claims by a retired US general that a joint exercise with the US Army in 2021 saw UK forces run out of ammunition in a week during a simulation of a Russian invasion.

He did confirm that some equipment stockpiles were being increased following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but others had been depleted by the decision to send arms to Kyiv.

The committee received a less direct answer to chairman Tobias Ellwood's question regarding what success in Ukraine looked like.